Sales Leaders – Do you want your people to Think?

It is easier not to think! It is easier for people to ask what should happen next than figure out what needs to happen next. If you want your people to think, you must challenge them so that they must do it. If you want your people to think, create the culture for it. Let them know it is one of the most important attributes of being successful. So how do we make this happen?

The next time a team member asks ‘what do you want me to do?’ about some sales challenge (big or small) don’t volunteer the solution. Instead, ask them ‘What do you think we should do?’. Empower them to make a significant contribution toward the solution. If you do this often enough you will change their mindset and more importantly, in time, it will change the mindset of those around them too. Before long, they will be telling you what they are going to do about their problems rather than asking what to do!

When a sales manager (every salesperson is a sales manager) tells you what they are going to do to provide a solution. Ask them one simple question. ‘What am I thinking now?’. This is most probably what you are thinking; ‘Is it best practice?’ ‘Is it the right thing to do in the circumstances?’ You now have people telling you what needs to be done, and just as importantly, why it needs to be done in a certain way.

You have now successfully passed psychological ownership of the sales challenge from you to them. Welcome to sales management paradise! If you do not help your people discover these answers for themselves you will always be the ‘go to point’. Whilst sometimes flattering and ego boosting it is not always good to be this ‘go to point’. Remember you have own strategic objectives to meet. Be it company growth, new business acquisition or customer satisfaction. God forbid what would happen if you are not around to do this critical thinking for them?

Not all your people will be ready right now for this leap, but some will. The Two Key Pillars for giving Control are this;

1. Technical Competence: Are they competent enough to know what ‘company best practice’ is? Do they know what ‘the safest and most diligent course of action to take looks like’ (for both the organisation and customer)? You are the best person to answer these questions as you know your people best.

2. Organisational Clarity: Is the decision being made the right one in line with your organisational goals and objectives?

If these pillars are firmly in place you can start to hand over control. It’s all about getting your sales managers to think like you. It cannot and will not happen overnight but you can start the process today! Do this and you will create around you; Thinking, Active, Creative, Proactive, Effective, Taking the Initiative Sales Managers.

Think about it, all you are doing is simply shifting the authority to where the information is. Your people will learn to make the same sound decisions as if you were standing there beside them. These people now have the information and the responsibility to make these decisions based on the Two Key Pillars outlined above.

This power of execution means no delay. It will also mean time and money saved within your organisation and more satisfied customers.

It is within your power to create the environment for thinking now. Only two warnings come with this;

1. With responsibility comes accountability
2. All Business-Critical Decisions must remain with you alone!

Remember: “If I keep control I will attract followers – If I give control I will create Leaders!”


At Jordan Wolf, we don’t just help people to sell better, we also help them how to think better. If you would like to find out more about this concept – give me a call on 087 987 1311 anytime!

Gerard Whelan